Yellow Versus Blue

On view through April 30

Robert Lange Studios

151 East Bay St.

(843) 805-8052

www.robertlangestudios.com

Every art show has a mood, an atmosphere that hits you as soon as you walk into the gallery. Robert Lange Studios’ latest group show, Yellow Versus Blue, is full of sunshine and optimism. Even the darkest, bluest clouds in these paintings have silver linings. With 20 artists appealing to a wide range of tastes, the exhibition provides an illuminating look at our local art market.

Some of the artists are talented up-and-comers from the Savannah College of Art and Design. Others are hard-working veterans, putting in 15-hour days in their studios. Whatever the breadth of their experience, all the participants have produced high-quality material, steadily inspiring each other to create more detailed, refined pieces. As gallery owner Robert Lange puts it, no matter what theme he gives them, they always deliver.

This year’s topic is broad but simple. The artists have been asked to make two same-sized pieces, one with a yellow color scheme and another that’s predominantly blue. Some of the resulting references are subtle, as in John Duckworth’s photographs. He emphasizes the dark walls of a building in “Rise” and the yellowness of artificial lights in “Chicago Morning.” They’re both out-of-focus urban scenes, best viewed from a distance. They’re the latest in a lengthy series of indistinct shots, part abstract vision, part vacationer’s mistake. Duckworth uses size (a 20″ x 30″ canvas) and splashes of light to find extraordinary beauty in his ordinary surroundings, all seen through a myopic haze.

John Westmark also takes an understated route with his illustrative “Blue Anti-Belle” and “Yellow Anti-Belle.” He uses acrylic and paper sewing patterns on linen to build up towering, spiraling feminine shapes. His colors are pale, accentuated by darker backgrounds of blue and red respectively. Strips of paper flow like moving limbs, and the blend of paint and patterns is seamless.

Lange is expert at making his oil paintings seem to flow from one side of the canvas to the other. He demonstrates this in “Satin Swell,” a smooth study in yellow with a wee goldfish suspended from the upper left hand side.

Like Lange, Charles Williams is confident about his work. His “Shades of Silence” marshscapes are hyper-realistic, but he reminds us that they are oil paintings by allowing his paint to dribble off the lower end of the canvas. A cocky comment on his skill or an acknowledgement of our polluted waterways? It’s up to the viewer to decide.

Unlike Howard, none of this show’s participants overreach. They stick to what they do best. The prolific Fred Jamar provides more evocative street scenes for “Yellow King” and “Blue Queen,” both triptychs. Adam Hall has created two moody oil paintings, “Rwanda Skies I & II,” set in a gallery corner like storm-browed children. Michael Brown’s “Squidly” and “Sea Monkey” feature alien octopi living in lava lamps, surrounded by psychedelic amoeba. Liquid glass is an extremely difficult artform to master, but Brown has done it.

Surprisingly, nothing seems out of place amidst the trippy acrylics, solid oils, fabric collages and abstract images on display. The regulated color scheme helps. Even more surprisingly, the most traditional paintings are also the most memorable: Kerry Brooks’ cinematic close-ups, Amy Lind’s portraits, and Joshua Flint’s Grand Central Station scenes are full of life and feeling.

Brimming with vigor and confidence, this show has deservedly become RLS’ most popular group show so far. A sequel is in the planning stages. Is anyone up for Brown Versus Pink?